The mechanical basics of throwing darts
look at some pictures of grips here, but
read this article first!
Chapter 2 - The Grip
© February 1998 by Karlheinz Zöchling
sure you have read the section on 'The throw' before proceeding with this. Grip
and stance just follow the requirements of the throw. You will benefit more when
you know the connections.
- The throw
- The grip (this document)
- The stance
All different - all equalThe grip is the most variable part of
darting technique. In general you can use here what's comfortable for you. There
are only a few DON'Ts you have to be aware of.
The basic grip:
Put the dart in your open palm. Balance it and find the center of
gravity. Now with your thumb roll the dart to your finger tips. Place your thumb
a bit behind the center of gravity, hold it with as much fingers as you like,
then move your arm to aiming position. Ready.
Most grips are only slight variations of this standard grip.
- Point up! As you know from chapter 1 your grip's main objective
must be to keep the tip of your dart pointing up in every throwing phase. If
yours doesn't meet this, change it immediately.
- Solid but not tensed. The grip must be firm, but it must not strain
your finger muscles. If your fingers get white from pressure or the knurling
digs into your fingertips, this is too much. If your muscles are that strained
you have problems in release and all along the throw, this is too much. Darts
is a game of touch, not force. To maintain your touch hold the dart loose
enough it doesn't slip away, but hold it firm enough to keep control when
accelerating. Typical error is rather holding the dart too firm than too
- How many fingers? An often asked question, and it can't be answered
in general. At least 3 fingers (thumb + 2), maximum all 5. All fingers should
touch the barrel or the point, no finger shall touch the shaft or even the
flight. A 2 finger (thumb +1) grip gives not enough control, so 3 at least.
More fingers give more control in acceleration and more touch, but it makes
the release more difficult as more fingers have to be coordinated. Finger
coordination in release is a key point for a grip. You have to make sure that
no finger can give the dart an unlucky 'kick' in release to slip it out of
position at the last moment. This leads directly to the next point:
- Barrel shape: Not all kinds of grips are usable on different kinds
of barrels. So it's obvious that longer barrels force a more finger grip,
while less fingers must be used for short barrels (well, that's just
simple-minded reasoning). Not only do you have to find your right grip, you
also have to find your right barrel. These things can of course only be seen
combined, and reversely. Just another issue of personal preference.
- No fist! What to do with fingers not involved in the grip? The best
is to spread them away, or keep them in the same position as the other
fingers. It's bad e.g. if you hold the dart with 4 fingers (thumb + 3) and the
small finger touches the palm like when making a fist. What happens is that
the other fingers will suffer from muscle strain and will tend to a fist more
than to the open hand required for a nice release. This will improve the
chance of the unlucky finger 'kick' mentioned above, and it also tends to
pointing the dart downwards, which we have already discovered as very bad.
To illustrate the wide variaty of grips, some examples from the pros.
Note that the grip, as written above, also partly results from the preferred
barrel shape, and vice versa:
- Pencil - Phil Taylor: Phil holds the dart in the common
pencil-grip. This grip is as good or as bad as any other one, as long as you
can keep the dart pointing forward and not too much sideways. The pencil grip
is the second most used after the lot of basic grip variations. It usually
requires a thin cylindrical barrel, like used by Phil.
- Wide open hand - Dennis Priestley: Dennis used to keep his fingers
in a nearly vertical shape and does all the required stabilization only by his
thumb. He closed the hand a bit more when I last saw him an video, but he is
still the one with the most open hand I know. The grip looks very loose, a
good advantage when it comes to exact release, but also a good chance to lose
control in accelerating. How he maintains his touch with this grip is a
complete miracle to me and seems to be only known by him. When I tried this
grip I actually had problems hitting the board. He is either naturally gifted
with it, or he has worked on it for years. A grip on the extreme side. Dennis
uses a thicker more ton shaped barrel, somewhere between Phil Taylor and John
- Small finger on the tip - Eric Bristow: Eric in his brilliant years
used to keep his small finger wide away from the others, touching the tip of
the dart. Long cylindric barrel. His grip is one variation of the basic grip,
not the best, not the worst. Less talented players might struggle with it.
- Three fingers - John Lowe: John uses a ton shaped rather thick and
short dart, so the 3 finger grip develops natural because more fingers hardly
find the space to touch the barrel. Should be considered as a standard grip
for this kind of darts.
- Small finger spread away - Rod Harrington: Rod uses a long and thin
barrel as it becomes usual more and more when standards and accuracy of the
game improve. He uses the basic grip and spreads his small finger away
vertically, while the others touch the barrel. A grip that seems very logic to
me, I use a similiar one, on quite the same barrel.
- Holding the dart on the front end - Bob Anderson: Bob holds the
dart way before the center of gravity, just a bit behind the tip. This is
unusual, as most players will struggle to develop a good touch for the throw
when doing this. Bob 'pulls' the dart more than he throws it. His overall
throw is faster than most others and it actually seems as if he permanently is
in a hurry. Lots of wrist action. He uses a pencil derived grip which seems
logic with this extreme technique, and a pretty long cylindric barrel. Not the
grip to recommend, but a sophisticated technique for a man who throws a very
And now, find your ownYou simply have to find your own grip.
Everything that meets the requirements and can be handled well by you is good.
Don't simply copy other players. Work it out on your own. You can of course try
grips of different people for curiosity, to compare and find out which parts of
it could fit you, or to learn about technical connections and improve your
knowledge on this, but you are an individual, and grips are as individual as
people. Don't get used to the habit of trying to find your 'weekly new and
revolutionary grip'. Try for a while, find a suitable one, and then practice and